Well, since Drewbie decided to give me some authorship in his blog, let me say a few words about myself:

  • I'm a 20-something living in Middle-America, but born and raised in the Mitten.
  • GK Chesterton has had a profound influence on how I think & see the world.
  • I am entering a Benedictine monastery in August.
Some previous thoughts on:
Discernment I & Discernment II
My backstory

Much of my writing will have little to do with politics-- D is much better at such discourse than I. My hope is to contribute more on reflections & maybe share insights and syntheses that strike me. Also count on some thoughts on the works of GK Chesterton, Tolkien, & Lewis. I'll likely sign off in August, but until then will gladly share my thoughts with y'all out there.


A Marian Litany


Mary, most holy
Mary, ever listening
Mary, peaceful heart
Mary, courageous and trusting
Mary, obedient before God
Mary, pierced by seven sorrows

Mary, hear a sinner's plea
Mary, Mother of God pray for me
Mary, direct my willful heart
Mary, intercede for me

Mary, Queen of Heaven
Mary, hope of Christians
Mary, pray for us sinners

Reggae and the Image of God


I picked up Matisyahu's Youth reggae CD the other day. A friend had introduced me to his music a couple of years ago but it didn't take hold until this past spring when I touched on Hasidic Judaism in my world religions class.

While teaching Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism, I found myself drawn to their life of community and prayer - joking with my wife that if I ever became Jewish, we'd have to move to a major city with a large Orthodox Jewish population. The idea that Jewish men are called to prayer three times a day as a matter of maintaining their faith drew my attention in a way similar to that of the monastery - a life of communal and regulated prayer.

Sure, within Catholicism we have the liturgy of the hours, rosary, chaplet, novenas, and endless other methods of prayer, but are any required for assuming the faith? And are communities prevalent or even existent outside of the liturgy? Sacrosancum Concilium (#12) notes first that the spiritual life is not limited to participation in the liturgy. This statement is immediately followed by the assertion that the Christian is called to pray with his brethren, then mentioning secret prayer to the Father.

Boom. Okay, when was the last time you prayed with your brethren outside of the liturgy? Last night at dinner doesn't count. Your spouse is a good start. Beyond that?

Is there a reason why Catholics have little or no communal life? It's easy to settle into the idea that Catholic community is like-minded people that sit next to you in mass - maybe even asking for a prayer or two. But praying with? Gathering for the purpose of prayer?

Politically, I imagine how the founding fathers would react to the state of our country today. Religiously, I can't bring myself to imagine the reaction of St. Paul upon hearing of the lack of everyday Catholic community. Probably a lot of yelling. Then tears.

Spiritually, we need one another. God exists in community (ala Trinity) and made us in His image. Limiting our prayer lives to one-on-one with God does not reflect the condition in which we were designed. It's like eating breakfast for every meal; good in and of itself, but not exactly what I'd call balance.

Maybe it's time to start a balance.

Exit thought: On one hand, healthy and regular prayer is helpful because then I don't have to worry about enough prayer... which allows me to worry about other things. On the other hand, if I worried about prayer like I should, perhaps I wouldn't be worrying about anything else.

Healthcare cut off her nose to spiderface or something


Confusing, I know, but we'll get through this.

Smoking is bad. Right? Smoking related illness kills 440,000 people every year (about 36,000 per month). On Thursday, the Senate voted to increase the extent to which cigarette nicotine can be regulated, as well as limiting advertising ability of tobacco companies. Safe to say, the likely intention of the Senate is to reduce the number of smokers since they are a... drag on the health care system.

If I were a flat republican, I'd have a huge problem with this, as it flies in the face of strict capitalism. However, I consider myself to be a Catholic Conservative. Behind all the politics and rights and who can do what and opinion, we are all people, created by God, with a specific and common human nature. In the biggest picture, the purpose of politics not to enforce an ideology, but to create conditions of the social life where people can more readily better themselves (GS 74). Outside of a particular political system, it is important for the government to protect society from things that may cause them harm such as smoking, drugs, pornography, murder (abortion and assisted suicide), and so on. Guns are not included, as the government often cannot protect a person from an immediate violent attacker. This is not to say that a nanny state is required, but that the state must be involved in removing from society things that run against a person's human nature; against their ability to attain happiness.

So tobacco companies are getting muzzled a bit. This would be fine except for the fact that in February 2009, this same Senate passed legislation for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) that expanded free heath coverage to an addition 4 million individuals (who have 'modest' income and do not qualify for Medicaid). Big deal? Yes, for many reasons; most immediately because it is set to be paid for with taxes taken from... drum roll please... If you guessed cigarettes, you're absolutely correct! Tell him what he's won Melvin - it's a Kimball piano - absolutely correct! The future of health care will be dependant on that which sickens people!


Interesting that the girl in the video mentions flu season. With the new pandemic level for swine flu, I think it might be good to quickly put things into perspective, 36,000 people die from the common flu each year; H1N1 Swine flue has killed 145 people.

The only sense this makes to me is if there is such an incredible health care crisis, the Obama administration will have an "excuse" to step in and take over the nation's health care. Similarly, though for another post, if FOCA passes, the USCCB would be and has declared that it would be morally obligated to close all Church run hospitals - creating just such a crisis for the government to step in.

Para-School Learning


I think back just a few years to my Senior year at Benedictine College. Like many finishing students, I spent hours armed with a class catalog and a list of my completed classes. Bending and stretching, I would try to figure out how I could fulfill all the hour requirements that would open the magical door to graduation. My last semester consisted of 12 credit hours, one of which ended after the quarter; another hour was piano lessons. Full time student with essentially 10 hours - smooth sailing.

At that time, I was also heavily considering the priesthood and religious life. I made a few retreats at the Abbey on campus where I learned that the young monks took in-depth Latin instruction from a couple of older monks. This seemed like a great idea until I learned that it wouldn't count for college credit.

How bizarre - to put in so much work and effort with... nothing to show for it. Forget the fact that the student would be well-versed in Latin, no college would recognize it as class completed.

Something still held my curiosity. How daring and rebellious would it be against the system to take a class for my own sake and not for worldly accomplishment.

The Daughters of Our Lady of the Visitation are an order in Vietnam that run a 15 student school. These students have supported themselves by salvaging "scrap metal" (i.e. spent bullets and shells), but are educated for the sake of education. In a society too removed from the pursuit of absolute success, the virtue of education is made manifest. For a person to make full use of their faculties, mind and body, is the continued fulfillment of human nature, which absolutely leads to happiness. This mission of the Daughters, instructing the ignorant, is an example of mercy that should be easily adapted into our own lives.

Maybe we are the ignorant. What are we going to do about it?

More on Stimulus Job Effects


Via HotAir:

"The stimulus bill was signed on February 17; even if we treat all job losses that month as having occurred after it went into effect (which we shouldn’t), we lost 681,000 in February, 652,000 in March, 504,000 in April, and 345,000 in May for a grand total just shy of 2.2 million jobs."

These numbers are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics - I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but ADP National Employment Report has numbers that are a little more bleak.

Even with the discrepancy with numbers, this is quite the visualization:

He says the table represents 2.5 million jobs - it doesn't quite add up - of course, the job loss projection quoted above has job creation counted against it as a net loss. The video does not discuss jobs created.

Whew: Obama more Christian that Bush


In response to a swath of new questions about Obama's religious identity (raised by his renunciation of America's Christian identity, his statement that America is one of the world's largest Muslim countries, the fact that he hasn't spoken out about the first act of Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11), Politico has decided to take it upon itself to calm the nerves of the nation by noting how often Barack mentions Jesus. I might ask why the nerves of a non-Christian nation need to be calmed...

The column leads with one of the most recent occasions of Obama's blatant Christianity:

"In his speech Thursday in Cairo, Obama told the crowd that he is a Christian and mentioned the Islamic story of Isra, in which Moses, Jesus and Muhammad joined in prayer. "

Hey, beggars can't be choosers. Forget that Obama's statement of faith is followed up by an event involving Jesus that Christians have never believed occurred. Actual references to the bible include:

"Obama mentioned Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at Georgetown University to make the case for his economic policies. Obama retold the story of two men, one who built his house on a pile of sand and the other who built his on a rock: “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” Obama said. “We must build our house upon a rock.” "

Obama's assertion that we must build our economic house on rock is a good idea, but it involves finding a rock and putting in the work - not just deciding that another dune now qualifies as rock.

The article rips the idea that Bush was a Christian President, while he spoke less about Jesus than Obama. It's great that President Obama is a mystic and looks for God in everyday life, but there is a fundamental problem with his approach. George Bush quoted scripture on occasions where the context of the passage applied to the event at hand - for instance, Psalm 23 after the 9/11 attacks. Rather than using scripture to address an occasion to that in context, Obama dangerously employs pretext - using scripture to fulfill your own preconceived ideas of what it means.

Of course, Joe Potatochip isn't going to know the difference; only that the politician quoted the bible, which works wonderfully for someone who's poll numbers are in a freefall.